McNair Scholars

The Life of Ronald E. McNair

Ronald E. McNair was best known for his illustrious service to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. McNair was born October 12, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina. He attended North Carolina AT&T State University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1971 with a BS in Physics. McNair then enrolled in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned a Ph.D. in Physics. McNair became a recognized expert in laser physics while working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research laboratory. He was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978 and was a mission specialist aboard the 1984 flight of the shuttle Challenger. Ronald McNair was tragically killed in the Challenger accident in 1986. After his death, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage first generation and multicultural college students to enroll in graduate studies.

What is McNair

The UW-Whitewater McNair Scholars Program prepares low income, first generation and/or groups underrepresented: Black (Non-Hispanic), Hispanic, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiians, and Native American Pacific Islanders for doctoral study as well as eventual careers as faculty.
This program promotes:

  • Research in scholarly activities
  • Enrollment in graduate programs
  • Continued enrollment in graduate programs
  • Doctoral degree attainment

A central feature of the program is the mentoring provided by UW-Whitewater faculty, where each scholar receives guidance in working on a research project, as well as regular contact with a professional role model. The research component requires each scholar to complete a research project and present that project at a professional conference. Scholars participate in a research internship during their second summer at a university, regional, or national research center.

Qualifications & Application


  • First generation and low income
  • Groups underrepresented in graduated education (African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans)
  • Minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA
  • Earned 60 units by the end of McNair summer experience
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, or permanent resident

Application Process

  1. Completed McNair application form
  2. Resume
  3. Personal statement

Turn in completed materials to McCutchan Hall 219 or electronically to Complete meeting with a McNair staff to review application materials, undergraduate research plan and graduate school plans by calling 262-472-2804. McNair Advisory Committee will confirm prospects after formal review. Sign McNair Scholars Program Student agreement. Application Deadline: December 15th, 2017

Academic Year Breakdown
  • Individual research with faculty mentor(s)
  • Individual advising with McNair staff
  • Prepare for graduate application
  • Graduate school visit
  • Mentorship/teaching practicum lecture
  • Conferences/Presentations
    • UW-Whitewater Undergraduate Research Day-Fall & Spring
    • McNair Senior Retreat/SSS-Fall
    • McNair National Conference-Fall
    • American Multicultural Student Leadership Conference (AMSLC) - Spring
    • The National Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) - Fall
    • National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) - Spring
    • UW-Symposium - Spring
    • Posters in the Rotunda (PIR) - Spring
    • Exposure to Writing Literacy
    • Exposure to Financial Literacy
    • Exposure to Technology
    • Exposure to Research Methodology
    • Exposure to Research - Ph.D. Standards
    • Graduate School Visits
    • Research Poster Presentations- On campus and off campus
    • Develop Research Proposal
  • For Phase 2 of the summer component, McNair scholars are required to apply to an out of state summer research internship programs or research site Students can apply through Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP), a direct placement, or through any other available program.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Student Diversity, Engagement and Success
UW-Whitewater 226 McCutchan Hall
Whitewater, WI 53190-1790
Phone: (262) 472-4985           
Fax: (262) 472-2794